Camping, Shared Bath, Sand Floor+ more info
For the adventurous backpackers, we offer camping options on Isla Wailidup. Please bring your own tents and sheets. As with all other room options we include breakfast, lunch and dinner served at the Over-the-Water restaurant.Max: From $ 60Select dates
Room facilities:Sand Floor
Private Cabin, Private Bath, On Island+ more info
Minimum 2 Guests - Located only steps away from the beautiful beach of Isla Wailidup, this private cabin boasts spectacular ocean views, a private balcony and an en-suite bathroom with shower.Max: From $ 79Select dates
Room facilities:Electric Outlets, En-Suite Bathroom, Fan, Mosquito Net, On Island, Sheets, Towels, Wood Floor
Room size:30 m2
Over-Water Cabin, Private Bath+ more info
Minimum 2 Guests - This is the most popular cabin in all of San Blas. With only six of their kind, we encourage our guests to book early! Each private over-the-water cabin is accessed through a wooden dock and guarantees privacy and relaxation. While all cabins in San Blas are very basic, this particular cabin features amenities such as electricity, private bathrooms with shower, and direct access to the water from the scenic patio.Max: From $ 99Select dates
Room facilities:Balcony with views, Electric Outlets, En-Suite Bathroom, Fan, Island Taxes Included, Mosquito Net, Over-the-Water, Sheets, Shower, Wood Floor
Room size:20 m2
We are sorry, this accommodation is not available to book at the moment
Isla Wailidup #1, San Blas
- Isla Wailidup, located in the Lemon Keys and just a 30 minute boat ride from the port, has the most comfortable cabins in San Blas. Close by are some of the most visited attraction, such as the natural swimming pools and a sunken wreck.
- The private cabins feature fans over each bed, private toilets and showers. Six cabins are built over the water and have balconies with access to the ocean while the cabins on land also feature private bathrooms and wooden floors.
- Waili Lodge has an ocean front restaurant with its own salt water pool to keep fresh lobster, fish, snails and crabs for preparing our guests' meals.
- Waili Lodge also has private rooms with wooden floor and private bathrooms
PLEASE THOROUGHLY READ THE SAN BLAS DISCLAIMER BELOW!!!
- Island Taxes
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Early Departure (leaving island by 8:00am)
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- Kuna Entrance Fee ($22 for Internationals, $7 for Panamanian residents)
- Roundtrip car transportation from Panama City ($55 per guest)
- Roundtrip boat transportation to the island ($40 per guest)
- Late Departure + Lunch - check-out from cabin by 8:00am, departure at 3:00pm ($15 per guests)
- Island Boat Tour ($10 per guest)
- Children ages four and older pay full price for the transport to and from the port of Carti. Children of ages three and younger who sit on their parents laps ride for free. However, if you prefer to have your young children occupy a seat, they will be charged full price.
- Children ages 4 and older pay full price. Children younger than 4 years old stay for free.
- On day 1, pick-up from Panama City lodging between 5:00am and 5:45am
- Arrive in the Port of San Blas by 9:00am
- Arrive at the island by 10:00am
- On Departure day, pick-up from the island by 8:00am or by 3:30pm (if booking with "Late departure + Lunch" Option)
- Arrive in Panama City at 1:00pm or at 7:00pm (if booking with "Late departure + Lunch" Option)
WHAT TO BRING
- Passport or Cedula for Kuna territory entry
- Cash (there is no Credit Card or ATM in San Blas)
- Comfortable and adequate clothing to protect yourself from the sun and thus avoid the use of sunscreen. Creams (even biodegradable ones) are polluting and for that reason we do not promote their use
- Insect Repellent (during the wet months, the island may have sandflies that can be very annoying)
- Cooler with Snacks
- Add $25 for a fresh lobster meal
- Roundtrip transportation from Panama City ($55 per guest) or Playa Bonita ($65 per guest) to the port of Carti
- Add $10 for San Blas boat tour
SAN BLAS DISCLAIMER - PLEASE READ!
While San Blas is a beautiful island archipelago with stunning beaches and clear waters, it also has its downsides, for which we would like to make you aware off.
In San Blas only the Kuna population is allowed to work in the territory. The services and infrastructure are not what most of us are used to. Kunas are not very service oriented and can often seem shy or reserved. A stay in San Blas can be compared to a camping vacation that offers minimal comfort, services and amenities. We strongly advise those who have 5 star expectations to think twice before embarking on this adventure. We do have alternative tours in Panama with more high-end services.
We really care about our reputation and we want our guests to enjoy their vacation with us. We attempt to be as transparent as possible in order to set guest expectations from the start. We do not own any of the islands and we pride ourselves in providing excellent service during your booking process and attempting to assist you during your San Blas vacation. However, please remember that we cannot guarantee the same excellent service during your stay in San Blas.
Please read all the below information well!
- San Blas is very rustic without the amenities and standards you might be used to from home. Compared to places such as Tahiti and Maldives that are managed by international hotel chains, San Blas has remained autonomous without the influence of outsiders. When visiting San Blas, it should be viewed as a cultural experience where guests live with the Kunas and respect their traditions and their primitive ways of living.
- No air condition - None of the islands offer A/C, some cabins don’t have fans either.
- No Wifi - You can buy a prepaid SIM card (Tigo or Digicel), which may or may not have signal.
- No luxury facilities - Bathrooms may be dirty, sinks may get clogged, sheets may be old
- Electricity is only available between 6:00pm and 6:00am. Cabins don’t have outlets. Electric devices can be charged in the restaurant.
- Water is a precious commodity in San Blas. It is either brought in by boat or pumped from the island well, which may have a significant salt content. Oftentimes pumps can malfunction and cause water outages.
- Beds and mattresses can be uncomfortable and sheets are old and worn.
- What seems like trash and clutter around the local huts, are items and tools that Kunas re-use for their daily lives. Please respect the fact that you will spend your time living alongside the Kunas who have different traditions and values. Please respect the fact that different cultures have different education, perspectives and ways of living and do not expect the cleanliness you may be used to from your home country.
- All services will all be handled by the indigenous Kuna. While Tao Travel 365 strives to provide the best service possible and train the Kuna in customer management, some of the below services are often out of our control.
- Car transportation - the ride to San Blas takes 2.5 to 3 hours, with 1.5 hours over slow, curvy roads with potholes. For those with motion sickness, please prepare accordingly. The transportation is in a shared 4x4 SUV, with one seat up front, three seats in the middle row and 2 seats in the back row. Seats are assigned randomly. Those who require additional space in the car must purchase an extra seat. Pick up from your lodging is scheduled between 5:00am and 5:30am, but can sometimes be as late as 5:45am depending on the timeliness of other guests that we pick up. Out of respect for all others in the car we ask everyone to wait in the lobby of their building at 5:00am. If you are not at the designated meeting point, the driver will make an effort to locate you, but he cannot delay the transportation by more than 10 minutes. No refunds are awarded to guests who don’t show up on time.
- Boat transportation - depending on weather and ocean conditions, the 20-40 minute boat ride might be bumpy and wet with ocean spray. Luggage is stored in the front of the boat and covered with tarps.
- Island cabin management - cabins are very rustic and facilities, such as showers and bathrooms are often “home-made” with PVC pipes. Some guests have complained that sheets are old. Please bring your own if you require fresh smelling sheets.
- Island kitchen - meal plans are repetitive and food might taste bland, without the use of spices. Additional food, drinks and snacks can be purchased on the way to San Blas. The driver will stop at a grocery store.
- Most Kunas DO NOT speak English. Please attempt to resolve any cabin related issues and requests directly with the island management.
- Trash is a worldwide problem and unfortunately San Blas has not been spared from the ever increasing issue. During certain tides and ocean and wind conditions plastic trash from throughout the Caribbean ocean accumulates on the beaches of San Blas. While the local Kuna are working hard to collect the constant flood of plastic trash washing up on their beaches, guests will nevertheless find evidence of plastic spread out on the island. Furthermore, Kunas tend to collect certain “trash” and re-use it for their purposes. For instance, a collection of empty gas canisters has been re-used to create a Christmas tree.
- During the wet months (April - December) or during windless days, all of San Blas experiences sandflies, which are little blood-sucking flies that leave itchy marks. Please ensure to bring insect repellent and prepare to return to Panama City with a few itchy memories. Some islands, such as Isla Wailidup tend to have more than others.
- Panama is located in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which means that the weather is very unpredictable and is impossible to forecast with accuracy. The weather forecast will usually show rain and thunderstorms for most days of the year, when in reality there are oftentimes beautiful, sunny days in San Blas. Please do not rely on the weather forecast in Panama.
- Due to the tropical conditions in San Blas rain can occur at any time and we do not offer refunds for rainy days.
- Guests who stay in cabins and would like to return earlier than their scheduled departure date must notify our reservation team one day before by 5:00pm via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org in order for us to arrange your return transfer. No refunds apply for early departures.
- Due to the complexity of the logistics involved with each reservation in San Blas (arranging cars, boats, tours, cabins and meals), we kindly ask our guests to adhere to the itinerary schedule sent to them in advance of their trip to San Blas. For any changes in schedule, you must first contact our office at least one day before by 5:00pm and we will attempt to accommodate your request.
- Travel Emergencies:
- The San Blas islands are located in a very remote region of Panama. We ask all guests to be responsible for their own well being and to be aware that medical assistance can often not be provided right away. The closest medical facility in San Blas is very basic and can only provide assistance for minor issues. Guests with injuries such as broken bones that require more specialized treatment need to be transported to Panama City.
- Guests are responsible for all charges arising from a medical emergency, such as boat and car transportation and medical care. We suggest all guests to carry a Travel Insurance to cover emergency expenses. For more information, please visit www.taotravel365.tours/travel-insurance/
We kindly ask our guests to lower their expectation when visiting San Blas and to focus on the beautiful remote paradise that San Blas has remained despite the effects that modern society has caused to them. The Kunas are very gentle and kind people, but can also be somewhat shy at times. When approaching them with a smile and an open heart you will be guaranteed an innocent, happy smile in return. Arriving with the right mindset and expectation usually guarantees an unforgettable experience, where guests are able to focus on the beauties of the islands, beaches, ocean and the people, rather than on the limitations that we mentioned above.
Please read our Accommodation Cancelation Policy before booking.
ACCOMMODATION CANCELATION POLICY
Tao Travel 365 strives to deliver the best possible customer experience. If at any point you have a question or concern about our service, please call us by phone at +1 (805) 826-3657 or email us at email@example.com.
I. GENERAL ACCOMMODATION POLICIES
Due to the nature of our business, the limited supply of cabins in San Blas and the high reservation demand a 100% refund less credit card processing fees will only be granted if booked via our website www.taotravel365.tours AND if canceled more than 30 days before the check-in date. A partial refund of 50 percent less credit card processing fees will be granted if Tao Travel 365 receives notice at least 20 days in advance of your check-in date. For cancellations received less than 20 days before your check-in date, no refund will be granted. All sales are ﬁnal.
For all bookings made via outside portals such as, but not limited to Viator, Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Hotels.com, please refer to the respective cancelation policy of the portal that you booked with.
If you are unable to realize the reservation, contact us as soon as possible and we will try to arrange and reschedule the same or different accommodation for you.
If you are not at the designated meeting point by the time of your scheduled reservation or pick up, Tao Travel 365 reserves the right not to provide a refund. However, we will always try our best to locate you at the meeting point and call your WhatsApp number, if one was provided. After all, we want you to visit San Blas and to have fun. That is our goal!
II. CANCELED OR POSTPONED RESERVATIONS
Occasionally, reservations are canceled or postponed due to weather or ocean conditions, mechanical failure, or other unforeseen events. Should this occur, we will attempt to contact you about the cancellations and to inform you of refund or exchange procedures for that accommodation. For exact instructions on any canceled or postponed accommodation, please contact us. In the case of a cancellation of your accommodation by Tao Travel 365, we will refund your accommodation or schedule you for another accommodation, as detailed below.
All sales are ﬁnal. No refunds are available unless an accommodation is canceled within the cancelation guidelines (see section I.), or canceled or postponed by Tao Travel 365 (see section II.). We will offer refunds of the full face value of the reservation(s) that are canceled or postponed (or, if a discounted reservation, then instead the discounted reservation price paid). No refunds are offered on any service, payment processing or convenience fees.
To receive a refund for a canceled or postponed accommodation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org within 3 days of the accommodation cancellation and write "refund" in the subject line. Instructions will be provided in order to obtain your refund.
IV. ACCOMMODATION EXCHANGES
No exchanges are offered by Tao Travel 365. While in some extreme cases we may offer this service (such as a cancellation by Tao Travel 365), it is not guaranteed and often impossible. Contact us directly by email at email@example.com to inquire about exchanges. Fees may apply.
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- En-Suite Bathroom
- Island Taxes Included
- Over-the-Water Restaurant
For anyone traveling to Panama on a vacation, the San Blas islands should be on top of their list. Scattered over 100 square miles on the Caribbean coast of Panama, the 365 tiny coconut islands of the San Blas archipelago make up one of Central America's most intriguing destinations and will guarantee a unique and once in a lifetime travel experience.
This is truly a paradise as anyone would imagine it, with colorful coral reefs, sunken shipwrecks and tropical palm dotted islets wherever one sets his gaze. Add a few wooden, thatched cabins and fine, powdery white sand, and you will have your perfect Robinson Crusoe paradise getaway.
The San Blas region is home to the Guna population, the first indigenous tribe in Latin America to achieve political autonomy. While embracing a few modern inventions, such as outboard motors and basic mobile phones, much about this amazing culture and its traditions has been preserved; compared to other, more commercialized destinations in the Caribbean, visiting the Comarca de Guna Yala will allow visitors to get a glimpse of the local customs.
Planning your vacation to San Blas might require a little more preparation, but luckily we have you covered with our useful guide and our friendly customer service team helping you navigate this fascinating area.
The ins and outs of island living
Most of the islands in San Blas are uninhabited aside from a few birds and palm trees on them. Only 49 out of the 365 islands are inhabited, consisting of community islands and outer islands. The community islands are located close to the mainland, with the main island called Acuadup, which is home to the tribe elders and leaders. Typically these islands are densely filled with bamboo huts, livestock and people; visitors to these islands will likely find budget lodgings, but the hustle and bustle and lack of beaches may not live up to your expectations of a secluded tropical paradise.
The outer islands are usually inhabited by a Guna family taking care of the coconut groves on a temporary, rotating 2-3 months basis. While these islands may invite for a perfect vacation setting, there may be very little opportunity to meet with the locals and learn about their interesting culture.
As you may imagine, the local cuisine in this undeveloped part of the world is very basic, consisting mostly of fresh seafood, while chicken and vegetarian options are usually also available. A typical meal consist of fried fish, salad and coconut rice, with lobster and octopus occasionally available for a few extra dollars. Since fresh fruit is imported from Panama, it may not be on the regular menu. While hygiene and cleanliness may vary depending on the standards of each island family, we are working closely with all the islands that we offer to our guests, ensuring food is cooked in clean kitchens with fresh ingredients. Guests are welcome to bring additional snacks and drinks, which can usually be bought in the morning on the drive to the port.
Learning about Guna traditions
Comprising one of the largest tribal groups in Panama, the Guna people work hard to protect their Comarca from unwanted westernization. Remember this as you travel through the region – be kind and respectful. We suggest to our guests to make an effort to learn about the Guna way of life through interacting with the locals, starting with the driver picking you up from your hotel. Knowing even a few basic words will most likely be rewarded with an openhearted smile (“nuedi” is thank you, “igi benuga” is How are you). The Guna are also known to throw a good party: amongst many festivities are the 4-day “Flowering” ceremonies held for each girl transcending into puberty, the Nogagope, a traditional dance celebration on Isla Tigre, or the February 25 party celebrating the Guna Revolution of 1925.
Despite centuries of struggle with larger cultures, the Guna have retained many of their ancient traditions, which also includes the art of Mola making, the creation of colorful quilted panels with tiny stitching on many layers of fabric. Molas are considered to be an integral part of the Guna culture and represent an important part of their identity. Molas have also become popular among travelers who purchase these elaborate art pieces and use them as decor, framed on walls or sewn onto throw pillows.
Noteworthy facts and suggestions: until the end of the 1990s, coconuts were used as the principal currency in San Blas. Even to this day, millions of coconuts are exported each year in exchange for food products, building materials and other goods. In San Blas taking a coconut is considered theft - we strongly advise our guests not to do it! Instead, we suggest you ask one of the Gunas on the island if there are coconuts for sale and have one parted swiftly by the stroke of a machete.
When it comes to taking photos or videos of the Guna, we suggest you first ask for permission. Many Guna, especially women in traditional dress do not like to be photographed, while others may put a price on each photo taken of them. It usually helps to be sensitive to the situation, spending time with the locals and developing a friendly relationship with them before asking to snap photos.
Furthermore, since recently, the usage of drones has been made illegal in the islands of San Blas. Heavy fines have been imposed on those who ignore the law. Please don’t do it!
Aside from their native tongue, Gunas also speak fluent Spanish. English is not widely spoken, but Gunas will make an effort to explain themselves using their hands and feet. We suggest you learn a few basic phrases in Spanish and bring a dictionary.
Making it happen
First and foremost, leave your mainland expectations behind - visiting San Blas and staying on an island is a unique and most likely unforgettable experience. Most accommodations are thatched huts with sand or wood floors. Some cabins have private bathrooms, while others may only have shared bathrooms. The decor is very basic and usually consists of beds, a desk, mosquito nets and fans. Some islands pump their ground water into tanks that divert fresh, unheated water to the bathrooms and showers. Other islands have to import fresh water in huge barrels on a daily basis. We kindly ask our guests to be conscious of their water usage and respect the time, cost and effort each island undertakes in order to provide sanitary comforts for our guests.
Package deals for visits to San Blas are the norm, with accommodations, meals (but not drinks) and one day tour included in the price. Prices range from US$70 - US$140 per day. Additionally, roundtrip transportation from Panama City in shared 4x4 cars, picking guests up at from their hotels between 5:00 - 5:50am, can be arranged for US$55 per person. Each car holds up to six passengers (not including the driver) - one up front, three in the middle row and two in the back row. For those guests who require extra space during the 2 1/2 hour journey, an extra seat can be booked and reserved. Please advise us ahead of time!
We offer a wide variety of accommodations on various beautiful islands, with each of them offering different charms and characteristics. For those seeking a romantic getaway in an over-the-water cabin we suggest Narasgandup island, for those who would like to get the best value in a beautiful wood bedroom-cabin, being able to rent paddle boards, lounge on unspoiled beaches and eat tasty meals we suggest Yansailadup island. We also love the newly built over-the-water cabins on Wailidup island, featuring a gorgeous beach on each side of the island, a clubhouse, which serves cocktails and a snorkel reef that is but a splash away from your balcony. One of our favorite secrets is Dummad islands. While the sand floor cabins are very basic, guests will be rewarded with breathtaking sunsets, pristine, uncrowded beaches and a crystal clear ocean.
Those who prefer to camp have various options available, as most islands offer campgrounds. Visitors can safe quite a bit when bringing their own camping gear - we suggest tents, hammocks, rain tarps and mosquito nets. Most camping areas can provide cots, cushions and sheets at a price which is similar to that of a cabin.
Carefully choosing your accommodations is important, since the remoteness of the island archipelago makes it difficult to change your mind. Before booking your trip, check to see if there is ample shade, privacy between cabins, and if the island gets busy (some islands receive day tours and get overly crowded). Also inquire about the included day trip, which might include a visit to a community island or the Natural Pools. Most cabins will include a tour that lasts from a few hours to a whole day, depending on each island package. Trips to the picturesque Holandese Cays can be arranged for an additional cost, since the boat ride to and from these islands takes one hour each way.
Tao Travel 365 is working with 12 different island chiefs offering our guests some of the most beautiful islands in San Blas. While each island has its unique attributes, we will gladly assist you in finding your perfect island paradise and help you customize your journey to San Blas - whether it is on a rustic island cabin, one an all inclusive sailboat charter, or on a day tour.
We offer high quality snorkel gear to all of our guests who book a Day Tour with us. However, each island will manage their own snorkel equipment and usually provide it free of charge when taking guests on the included boat tour. During their stay on the island, guests can rent snorkel gear cheaply from the management. We suggest guests bring their own snorkel masks when making this once-in-a-lifetime trip to San Blas in order not to miss out on the colorful underwater world that awaits just feet away from the white sand beaches.
When booking, please keep in mind that internet access and reliable phone signal is not the norm in the archipelago. Booking with us will keep your peace of mind that your trip will be planned to perfection. Also, in case you have any queries during your stay we are always available to assist with any needs that may arise. We keep in close contact with the management team of each island and ensure that our guests are well tended to.
In recent years, the accumulation of trash has become a problem in San Blas. Currents bring trash from Colombia and other Caribbean islands to the beaches of the archipelago. Each morning and throughout the day the resident Guna family of each island tends to their beaches, raking up plastic debris. With no formal removal system or designated depository, the trash usually ends up occupying a discreet - and sometimes not so discreet - corner of the island. During the past few years Tao Travel 365 has actively been involved in educating the Guna population in trash separation and recycle programs. Most of the islands we work with now feature trash bins for different waste products. Paper-based trash is commonly burned in a blazing beach bonfire on a regular basis, while plastic waste, bottles and cans are shipped back to Panama and properly recycled. As visitors, the best we can do is to be conscious of generating as little trash as possible and help disposing our trash in properly designated trash bins. Before even traveling to the islands, it will help the Guna, if guests minimize the packaging of food items, batteries and toiletries.
Adventurous travelers longing to explore the Caribbean seas, you’ve found your chance: sail the island-dotted archipelago with your own customizable itinerary, explore remote anchorages with beaches and turquoise waters you have only seen on screen savers and escape to your own private island paradise, away from any crowds, all while being pampered with deliciously prepared meals and all inclusive amenities such as water toys, toiletries, alcoholic drinks, and snacks.
Sailboats usually require a three day minimum stay and are best suited for couples, families or small groups, given their high operating costs. Tao Travel 365 is working with a variety of sailboats, including monohulls and catamarans that specialize in both all inclusive private and shared charters ranging from US$180 to US$300 per person, per night.
Sailing throughout the islands of San Blas is the ultimate experience and will guarantee an unforgettable vacation unlike any other.
Taking your time
You can visit San Blas in a day, which is a great alternative for those who travel to Panama on a tight schedule, but why rush? Traveling to an island requires about four hours of round-trip travel from Panama City (2 1/2 hours by car with 1 hour over slow, windy roads and about 30 to 40 minutes by speed boat). Tao Travel 365 offer San Blas Day Tour packages for US$114, whereas overnight stays start at US$70. Unless you have limited time in Panama, give it a day or two - once you get a glimpse of this island paradise with its clear waters and palm-fringed beaches, you will thank us.
Paying your way
Almost every island in San Blas charges a non-negotiable fee for everyone arriving at the island (US$2-5). Visitors often balk at these nominal fees, but think of them as a beach tax which supports the Kuna family tending to the island and keeps the beaches clean. There is also a fee to enter the Comarca (US$20) which is paid when crossing the border from Panama to the Guna Yala territory (Please DO NOT forget to bring your passports!) and a port fee (US$2) which is paid in Carti. We include all island taxes in our prices. If using our transportation service, the driver will ask each passenger for the US$20 Comarca fee and the US$2 port fee and pay it on your behalf to the appropriate authorities.
Making unforgettable memories
Whether you decide to visit San Blas for the day with our San Blas Day tour, or stay in one of the beach cabins, or venture to the remote outer islands with a sailboat charter, we are excited to have you visit this beautiful and lesser known part of the world. Our friendly team at Tao Travel 365 will gladly assist you in making the right choices and plan your vacation based on your budget and preferences.
Read more about a first hand experience of one of our sailing charter guests in our blog section
and about San Blas impressions by one of our German guests